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Apple reportedly focusing on its buggy iOS problems again with iOS 14

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iOS 13 woes have forced Apple to rethink how it tests iPhone updates

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Apple will reportedly focus on overhauling the way it tests its iOS software. Bloomberg reports that Apple recently revealed changes internally that involve the company using software flags in daily builds of iOS in an attempt to stabilize future releases. The flags would allow Apple’s own developers to include changes to beta versions of iOS 14 that internal testers could then switch on, allowing Apple to better isolate any bad code.

It’s a process that Google, Microsoft, and many others have been using for years to isolate and test changes in Chromium, Windows, and other software products. Apple is overhauling the way it tests all of its software, including macOS updates, because iOS 13 has been a buggy mess since its introduction in September. Apple has released eight updates to iOS 13 in just two months, addressing a variety of problems like apps crashing, visual glitches, unfinished areas of dark mode, and even missing features. iOS 13 was in such a bad shape that Apple reportedly considered the 13.1 update as the “actual public release” that debuted five days after iOS 13 was released.

Bloomberg doesn’t reveal exactly what will be part of iOS 14, but work is clearly underway to address the underlying stability of Apple’s mobile operating system. This should hopefully mean even public beta versions of iOS 14 will be more stable than what many experienced with iOS 13. This isn’t the first time that Apple has focused on bugs, performance, and stability with iOS. The company’s iOS 12 release focused on making things work better over adding new features.

Still, Apple has not yet separated its major iOS releases from its new iPhone hardware. Every year a new iPhone arrives with a new iOS update, and it often feels like the OS and features have been rushed to make it to these new devices in time. New hardware obviously needs new software, and perhaps software flags might help here, but they won’t fully address the underlying issue of focusing on an iPhone release date instead of software quality.